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Britain Charges Egyptian Outlaw with Masood Killing - 2001-10-31


Britain has indicted Egyptian Yasser al-Sirri -- already sentenced to death in absentia for a 1994 assassination attempt in Egypt -- with conspiracy in last month's murder of Afghan opposition leader Ahmad Shah Masood.

Al-Sirri spoke only to confirm his name during a court appearance in London Tuesday. A judge turned down a bail request and ordered him to stay behind bars until his next hearing November 7th.

Police arrested al-Sirri last week. He is the first suspect charged in the September 9th assassination of legendary Afghan opposition commander Ahmad Shah Masood. Two men posing as television journalists set off a bomb hidden in a camera during an interview with Commander Masood. The two fake reporters died instantly. The commander died six days later.

The British court Tuesday charged al-Sirri with soliciting support for Gamaa al-Islamiyya -- an outlawed Egyptian Islamic group. The group claimed responsibility for the 1997 terrorist attack in Luxor that killed 58 tourists.

Al-Sirri is also charged with raising funds for terrorists and inciting racial hatred by publishing a book calling for the killing of Jews.

An Egyptian military court sentenced al-Sirri in absentia in 1994 for the attempted assassination of former Prime Minister Atef Sidqi one year earlier.

Egyptian authorities also believe he is a leading member of al-Jihad, a group believed to have been involved in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

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